Tree pose at pond

Scapulohumeral rhythm: what happens when you lift your arms overhead?

What happens when you lift your arms overhead? Lifting your arm is a pretty common movement—think shampooing your hair or reaching for a can on a high shelf. It’s also common in yoga practice, from the first movement of a sun salutation to downward facing dog and handstand. Unfortunately, there are some widespread misconceptions in…

Pull ups and yoga

Pull ups and yoga: An important movement most yogis miss out on

Pull ups and yoga: Are you missing out? If you only practice yoga, you’re probably missing out on an important type of movement that can help you find more balanced strength and stability in your shoulders—upper body pulling exercises. While yoga helps develop upper body pressing strength–with poses like down dog, handstand and arm balances–it does…

Hanumanasana

What happens when you stretch a muscle? (part 1)

  “What happens when a muscle stretches?” This frequently asked question — a perennial query during anatomy trainings — deserves a few blog posts, especially as the mechanism is often misunderstood. Stretching targets muscles in two ways. First, it directly affects muscle and connective tissue itself. As you’ll see in this post, those effects are temporary and short-lived.  Stretching…

Research review: The effects of bhastrika in the elderly, part 3

In my last post about this study (1), I described how four months of pranayama practice affected respiratory function in elderly yoga practitioners. Today, we take a look at how the practice of bhastrika impacted heart rate variability and the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. Before delving into heart rate variability, a review of the autonomic nervous system is in order. The autonomic nervous system…

Research review: The effects of bhastrika in the elderly

You don’t need to know anything about science to practice yoga. The ancient yogis didn’t. Their method was introspection. They discovered the effects of yogic practices through sustained attention to their own internal physical and mental states. Given how much variation there is between individuals, that’s probably still the best way for you to determine the effects of your own…